Lebanese security forces stormed a building in Beirut early Thursday after a nighttime shootout with gunmen holed up inside a flat, in an incident which left two dead and seven wounded, security sources said.
One gunman was killed in the shootout and the body of another man was found inside the flat in west Beirut’s Karakass district, a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.
Another gunman was wounded, the army said in a statement, adding that the man had previously been “detained for several years in Lebanon for security reasons,” without elaborating.
The security official said the spark for the shootout was a personal dispute between at least one of the men and a woman in her early 20s. The dead man and the woman, detained in the incident, were Syrian nationals, he said.
The army said it also arrested a guard described as “suspicious” and the wounded gunman, having rushed to the site late Wednesday after reports of gunfire.
According to the army, the man who was found dead in the flat had been killed during a clash between gunmen that took place prior to the arrival of security forces.
Gunmen subsequently lobbed grenades and began shooting at the security forces from the flat, wounding at least six policemen and soldiers. The military said it found a large amount of weapons in the flat.
The shootout came amid heightened tensions in Lebanon, where deadly sectarian violence has broken out in the past two weeks linked to the unrest sweeping neighbouring Syria.
The US embassy in Beirut on Thursday warned American citizens to be aware of prevailing “tensions” and “violent incidents” in Lebanon.
The message follows the weekend killing of two clerics at an army checkpoint in Akkar, a mainly Sunni Muslim region whose inhabitants are hostile to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The killings ignited street battles in the capital overnight Sunday-Monday that left two people dead and 18 wounded.
On Wednesday, multiple violent incidents including the shootout in Karakass took place in several areas of the capital.